Bill Cottringer

"A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better." ~Jim Rohn.

The four crucibles of successful leadership include: Becoming an expert at managing yourself first, developing proper focus, learning the people principles of managing others and resolving to be a perpetual, insatiable student of work and life.

1. Self-management.

The best leadership always starts with great self-management. This arduous process involves a variety of self-development milestones—developing your toolbox of skills in emotional intelligence, smart thinking, focus, communication, mindfulness, inner-motivation, priority-setting, purpose and goals, and attending to course corrections. Most progress starts with learning to manage your emotional intelligence so that it is a complement to smart thinking, the way it is supposed to be.

The most important aspects of emotional intelligence to learn and manage are: Increasing your self-understanding, regulating your emotions and moods, improving social interpersonal skills—especially good communication—knowing how others perceive you, and increasing empathy and intrinsic-motivation. Smart thinking mainly involves learning the importance of being more mindful of what is going on in the present, without over-dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is the place where self-management starts and where these other three crucibles enter the scene.

2. Focus.

When you do a Google search with the key word “leadership,” you now get over 6 billion hits. This is way too much information to know from all the plethora of available resources on this topic and unless you are the world’s record holder of speed-reading and have a few extra lifetimes to do it, there is only one path through this critical mass overload. Finding this path involves focusing mostly on learning leadership principles from your reading, work experience and mentoring, and applying these important principles on managing yourself to become a fully self-actualized person as your best self, and then a great leader of others.

Smart thinking has a sharp focus on the most readily available success principles and the purpose of what you are trying to do—your personal mission. Being that we are getting swept into the unknown without a map with this Information Age, which we are immersed in, keeping your focus sharp is a real challenge, given all the tempting distractions, detours, dead ends and downright delusions of misinformation. Discovering “P” point principles can be a very useful time management strategy—these are the smaller, well-timed and well-paced interventions get the most traction in results, without any negative side effects. A toolbox full of these will arrow your field of vision, so that you stay focused on what matters most.

3. Management of Others.

Again, being able to manage others in an organization, relationship or work team, starts with being able to manage your own self first. You really can’t control others but with self-control, you can at least manage the relationship you have with others. Once you learn how to do that effectively, you will know all you need to know about how to lead and deal with others well enough to get them to help you do what needs to be done. Most of this knowledge involves knowing how to best motivate and reward, communicate with and hold others accountable.

There are two important motivational principles. First, we all have a lot in common and yet we are all unique with our individual differences. The same is true with motivation being a one on one delivery with the people you are motivating. The second principles is that internal motivation is stronger and lasts longer than external carrot motivation, and this is the main target of managing others by teaching them how to manage themselves.

4. Perpetual Learning

Successful leadership involves an attitude of resolve about being a perpetual student, never quite satisfied with where you are at, with what you know and can do. This is especially true with the life-long process of becoming your best self—physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively, vocationally and spiritually. A turning point is when you finally realize you’ve only been pretending to be who you hope to be, with the insight that all you know may not necessarily be so. Questioning sacred beliefs and paradigms about how people and life actually work, clears the necessary brain space to learn what you need to know to close the gap between where you are and where you need to be.

There is a natural tendency to become complacent after you finally move from struggling to survive to celebrating your thriving into the land of good and plenty. But resting at this particular plateau can be paralyzing and so beware that the road to personal development and successful leadership will always be a work in progress, never quite finished. And, in heading into unknown, unfamiliar territory, we will not get very far without learning how to overcome new and unusual challenges, with an attitude of perpetual learning and drive for continuous improvement.

"To add value to others, one must first value others." ~John Maxwell.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or